Tag Archives: VJ day

70th anniversary of VJ Day on Saturday 15 August – Get involved in VJ Day 70

VJ Day 70:

VJ Day 70

As the nation prepares to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day on Saturday 15 August, Countess Mountbatten of Burma has urged members of the public to attend and show their support.

Her father, Lord Mountbatten, was the Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia during the Second World War.

Get involved in VJ Day 70

VJ Day commemorations are happening on and around 15 August across the country, with HM Government hosting a ceremony for veterans and their families in London.

VJ Day 70

Her Majesty The Queen and members of The Royal Family will attend a series of events on Saturday 15 August 2015 in London to commemorate the 70th anniversary of VJ Day.

Members of the public are being encouraged to support this anniversary by lining Whitehall in Central London to watch a spectacular flypast of historic and modern military aircraft, view the drumhead service taking place in Horse Guards Parade on big screens, and cheer on the veterans as they parade supported by military bands and current personnel in honour of the role they played in the Second World War.

Visit VJ Day 70 for more information about the event and how you can take part. You can also join the conversation online by following #VJDay70.

Veterans, civilian internees and their descendents

Veterans and civilian internees, along with their descendents and families, can attend a special VJ Day commemorative event at Horse Guards Parade on 15 August.

The event will begin in spectacular style with a flypast of three historic aircraft; a Dakota and Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and a Royal Navy Swordfish, together with a current RAF Typhoon.

This will be followed by a drumhead service – a church service conducted “in the field” where no altar is available – a wreath-laying ceremony, and a reading of Rudyard Kipling‘s poem ‘The Road to Mandalay’ by famed actor Charles Dance.

Members of the public

London, Whitehall

Big screens will be made available in and around Whitehall so that members of the public can get involved in the Horse Guards ceremony and, and cheer our VJ Day heroes during the parade.

Military bands will also line the route during the parade and the flypast will pass overhead.

VJ Day route map
VJ Day route map

Staffordshire, National Memorial Arboretum

A service will be held on Saturday 15 August in the Millennium Chapel, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony.

On Sunday 16 August the Far East Prisoner of War Building will be rededicated followed by a wreath-laying at the Far Ear Prisoners of War Grove.

Lichfield, Lichfield Cathedral

A Service of Thanksgiving will be held on Saturday 15 August

Manningtree, Manningtree War Memorial

On Saturday 15 August – The Manningtree and District Royal British Legion Branch will hold a ceremony at the Manningtree War Memorial.

Derbyshire, Hayfield Village War Memorial

Hayfield Royal British Legion Branch will hold a Service of Thanksgiving and commemoration at the village War Memorial on Saturday 15 August.

Portslade, Easthill Park War Memorial

A Far East Prisoners of War Service of Remembrance will be held on Sunday 16 August at the Easthill Park War Memorial in Manor Road, Portslade, near Brighton.

Portsmouth, Guildhall Square

Portsmouth City Council will host a service at the Second World War Memorial, next to the Cenotaph in Guildhall Square on Saturday 15 August. The service will be attended by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, veterans, representatives from the Armed Forces and community organisations and will feature readings and a wreath-laying ceremony.

Live coverage of the commemorative events being held in London will also be shown on the Big Screen in Guildhall Square.

On Sunday 16 August a Choral Evensong will be held at Portsmouth Cathedral, High Street, Old Portsmouth.

Japanese war crimes – Execution of Leonard Siffleet

Execution of  Leonard Siffleet

14 January 1916 – 24 October 1943

With VJ around the corner I thought I would do a  post about Leonard Siffleet , whose lonely end was immortalised in this famous picture. When I first saw this picture I was struck by how calm and dignified Leonard seemed as he waited on the brutal end to his too short life. His sacrifice and death will live long in our memory. I salute you Leonard!

Leonard George (Len) Siffleet

Leonard George (Len) Siffleet
P02547.001SiffleetPortrait.jpg
Studio portrait of Len Siffleet, c. 1941
Born(1916-01-14)14 January 1916

Gunnedah, New South Wales

Died24 October 1943(1943-10-24) (aged 27)

Aitape, Papua New Guinea

AllegianceAustralia
Service/branchAustralian Army
Years of service1940–43
RankSergeant
UnitSRD (1942–43)
Battles/warsWorld War II

Leonard George (Len) Siffleet (14 January 1916 – 24 October 1943) was an Australian commando of World War II. Born in Gunnedah, New South Wales, he joined the Second Australian Imperial Force in 1941, and by 1943 had reached the rank of sergeant. Posted to M Special Unit of the Services Reconnaissance Department, Siffleet was on a mission in Papua New Guinea when he and two Ambonese companions were captured by partisan tribesmen and handed over to the Japanese.

All three men were interrogated, tortured and later beheaded. A photograph of Siffleet’s impending execution became an enduring image of the war, and his identity was often confused with that of other servicemen who suffered a similar fate, in particular Flight Lieutenant Bill Newton, VC.

Early life

Siffleet and fiancée Clarice Lane, 1941

Len Siffleet was born on 14 January 1916 in Gunnedah, New South Wales. The son of an itinerant worker of Dutch ancestry,  his siblings included a sister and two brothers. Siffleet made his way to Sydney in the late 1930s, seeking to join the police force, but was prevented from doing so because of his eyesight. He was nevertheless called up for the militia in August 1940, and attached to a searchlight unit at RAAF Station Richmond.

Discharged from the militia after three months, Siffleet returned to his family to help look after his young brothers following their mother’s death. He was working as a shop assistant when he enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in September 1941.

Allotted to a signals company based at Ingleburn, New South Wales, he was reported absent without leave on two occasions; he was by this time engaged to Clarice Lane.

New Guinea campaign

After training in radio communications at Melbourne Technical College, Siffleet volunteered for special operations in September 1942 and was posted to the Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD) of the Allied Intelligence Bureau in Melbourne.[1][4] He joined Z Special Unit in October and was transferred to Cairns in Far North Queensland for further operational training. Assigned to the SRD’s Dutch section as a radio operator, Siffleet was promoted sergeant in May 1943. He moved across to M Special Unit the same month to take part in a mission to set up a coastwatching station in the hills behind Hollandia in Papua New Guinea.[1][3] Described by Commander Eric Feldt, director of the Coastwatchers, as “the best type of N.C.O. of the A.I.F., young and competent”. 

Siffleet joined a party led by Sergeant H. N. Staverman of the Royal Netherlands Navy, which included two Ambonese privates, H. Pattiwal and M. Reharing. Code-named “Whiting”, this team was to work in concert with another group known as “Locust”, led by Lieutenant Jack Fryer.

Staverman’s reconnaissance group commenced its mission in north-east New Guinea in July, trekking across mountainous terrain through August and September. At some point Staverman and Pattiwal separated from the others to undertake further exploration of the countryside, and were ambushed by a group of natives. Both were captured and reported as killed, but Pattiwal later escaped and rejoined Siffleet and Reharing. Siffleet signalled Fryer to warn him of the hostile natives and of Japanese patrols, indicating that he was preparing to burn his party’s codes and bury its radio. No more was heard from them after early October.

Clarice Lane (incorrectly addressed as “Clemice” Lane) had in the meantime received two letters from the Allied Intelligence Bureau in July and September, stating that Siffleet was “safe and well”.

Death and legacy

Sergeant Siffleet’s execution at Aitape, 1943

After Pattiwal rejoined Siffleet and Reharing, they attempted to make their way to the Dutch border. They were ambushed by a hundred native villagers near Aitape and, after a brief melée during which Siffleet shot and wounded one of their attackers, the group was captured and handed over to the Japanese. Interrogated and tortured, the team was confined for approximately two weeks before being taken down to Aitape Beach on the afternoon of 24 October 1943.

Bound and blindfolded, surrounded by Japanese and native onlookers, they were forced to the ground and executed by beheading, on the orders of Vice-Admiral Michiaki Kamada of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

The officer who executed Siffleet, Yasuno Chikao, detailed a private to photograph him in the act.  Chikao has been variously reported as having died before the end of the war, and as having been captured and sentenced to be hanged, with his sentence subsequently commuted to 10 years’ imprisonment. 

The photograph of Siffleet’s execution was discovered on the body of a dead Japanese major near Hollandia by American troops in April 1944. It is believed to be the only surviving depiction of a western prisoner of war being executed by a Japanese soldier.

The photo was published in Australian newspapers and in Life magazine but was thought to depict Flight Lieutenant Bill Newton VC, who had been captured in Salamaua, Papua New Guinea, and beheaded on 29 March 1943.

It later went on display at the Australian War Memorial. Elsewhere, despite positive identification in 1945 of Siffleet as the soldier pictured, the image continues on occasion to be misidentified as Newton.

Siffleet is commemorated on the Lae Memorial in Lae, Papua New Guinea, together with all other Commonwealth war dead from actions in the region who have no known grave.A memorial park commemorating Siffleet was also dedicated at Aitape in May 2015.

R.I.P

See: Execution of Bill Newton – Life & Death